Concerns on Mormonism rise again in election

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After one of his supporters demanded Mitt Romney “renounce his racist Mormon religion,” presidential candidate Rick Santorum was left facing some demands himself.

Officials from MormonVoices, an independent organization associated with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, called on Santorum last week demanding he “condemn the anti-Mormon comments” made by his supporter, the Rev. O’Neal Dozier.

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks Saturday, March 17, 2012 during a campaign appearance at Herrin High School in Herrin, Ill. Santorum visited several Illinois towns Saturday to help build momentum before Tuesday's primary. (AP Photo/Alan Rogers, The Southern The Southern)
According to The Deseret News, Dozier called a press conference last week in which he claimed the LDS Church was racist against blacks, Jews and Native Americans. Although Dozier said the purpose of the conference was not a political push for Santorum, officials from MormonVoices were not impressed.

“Dozier’s comments represent a form of religious bigotry that should not be tolerated by any serious candidate for the presidency of the United States,” said Scott Gordon, one of the managing directors of MormonVoices. Gordon continued, saying he felt Dozier’s comments were “curiously behind the times.”

Officials of the Church did not give a statement specifically regarding Dozier’s comments, although previous statements made by the Church regarding racism say “the origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

Students like Joel ZaeJoDaeus, a junior from Littleton, Colo., majoring in accounting, said Dozier’s concerns with Mormonism reminded him of comments made by Rick Perry’s supporter, the Rev. Robert Jeffress earlier in the election.

“They are both very similar, except [Dozier] went further to say we are racist, which was a more direct and negative accusation,” ZaeJoDaeus said. “I think if Santorum has integrity he should distance himself from that comment at the least, stating his personal opinion.”

ZaeJoDaeus said he ultimately agreed everyone is entitled to their opinions, but he didn’t feel the comments would help or hurt Santorum.

“I think it will help him with the evangelical vote but not much further than that,” ZaeJoDaeus said. “It wouldn’t hurt him with the general vote unless he said it himself or endorsed that comment.”

No response has been made either by Romney or Santorum, but ZaeJoDaeus said he felt the negative press wouldn’t slow Romney’s lead or hurt The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“As long as there are resources and commercials supporting the true position of the Church, then people will eventually look into it if they really want to know,” ZaeJoDaeus said. “Overall, I think the negative press is better than no press for Romney. Not the best, but better than none.”

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